GETTING a curvaceous bum is a desire for many women of the technological age who are highly influenced by celebrities and Instagram models with the same. But the natural way of exercising and doing hundreds of squats is not the course taken by celebrities and other popular folk — instead, achieving this firm, round and supple derrière is usually the result of the popular Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) surgery.
But the popular surgery has its risks, and this month, in responding to what has been described as an alarming number of deaths in relation to the BBL, five international plastic surgeon societies, dubbed the Multi-Society Task Force for Safety in Gluteal Fat Grafting, published an unprecedented, urgent warning about the popular surgery.
The task force, which consists of The America Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery; American Society for Plastic Surgeons; The International Society of Plastic Surgery; The International Society of Plastic Regenerative Surgeons; and The International Federation for Adipose Therapeutics and Science, came together in a statement to explain that the unusually high mortality rate from this cosmetic procedure is estimated to be as high as one in 3,000, greater than any other cosmetic surgery.
They said the cause of mortality is uniformly fatal fat embolism due to fat entering the venous circulation associated with injury to the gluteal veins. In addition, the task force said in every patient who has died, at autopsy, fat was seen within the gluteal muscle, therefore they concluded that fat should never be placed in the muscle, only in the subcutaneous tissue.
But still many local women feel pressured to do their bodies and be like Instagram celebrities who have gone under the knife. Below local doctors weigh in on the popular BBL surgery, and why women should heed the warnings.
Dr Anna-Kay Taylor Christmas, obstetrician-gynaecologist:
The BBL is a form of buttock augmentation that involves liposuction of fat from an unwanted area and placing it into the buttocks to change its shape and size. Unfortunately, there have been some cases of death associated with this procedure recently and these are due to either unlicensed/unqualified persons doing the procedure or the inherent risks of the procedure itself. This procedure has one of, if not the highest mortality (death) rate of common cosmetic procedures.
Although it sounds like a simple enough procedure, it carries a higher risk of fat embolism, where the injected fat particles enter the bloodstream and travel to the heart and lungs. This can be fatal quite quickly and is difficult to treat. The procedure also carries the risk of blood clots forming in the lungs (which can also be fatal), infection in the wounds, nerve damage and numbness, abnormal scarring and deformity.
The key is to first assess if you really want or need the surgery, as all surgical procedures carry risk, including death. If you decide to go ahead with the procedure, ensure that you go with someone who is properly trained and certified. During the consultation with your doctor, ask questions about his or her training, numbers of procedures done, the type of procedure you would be getting, as well as a full list of possible complications. Do not go the cheap route and have it done by a non-doctor/surgeon and don't have it done in unlicensed facilities or someone's home. The risks are too great to take it lightly.
Dr Jordan Hardie, obstetrician-gynaecologist:
BBLs involve the transfer of fat from other parts of the body to the gluteal region. Any woman who desires this procedure should see a certified plastic surgeon and discuss the nature of the procedure and the possible complications of the procedure. No woman should feel pressured into doing something she is uncomfortable doing or that is unsafe.
Dr Alfred Dawes, general, laparoscopic and bariatric surgeon:
Cosmetic procedures have taken on a life of their own over the past few years, driven primarily by the open revelation of procedures done by celebrities such as Kim Kardashian. Instagram models and celebrities flaunt their “perfect bodies” and this catches the imagination of many women out there who aspire to have similar physiques. The BBL and other fat transfer procedures have become very popular as persons are wary of having silicone implants in their bodies, as was the case in previous years. The BBL involves injecting fillers or fat harvested from other parts of the body to give the bottom a firm, round appearance. This looks and feels more natural than having silicone implants. However, this is not without risk as there have been several deaths reported from the implants. Almost all of these deaths have been related to the fillers or fats in the injection going directly into the bloodstream and causing an embolus that can lead to cardiac arrest. Other persons may have allergic reactions leading to deformities or a systemic allergic reaction leading to death. If one wants to do fat grafting in the buttocks or anywhere else in the body they have to understand the dangers associated with going overboard and wanting too much done at one time. The results seen on Instagram are usually the end product of multiple procedures spaced out over time. The dangers associated with wanting to have everything in one sitting is dangerous and should not be encouraged.
The skill of the surgeon performing the fat graft has to be taken into account. Persons with better training and more experience usually do a better job than persons not trained in the process of fat grafting. However, if the procedure is done by a trained surgeon and too much grafting is not done at the same time, it is a safe and a good method of achieving the body women want. If one intends to travel overseas to have this procedure done, ensure you do thorough research about the facility you are going to use as there is the risk of infection as well as other complications including the embolus that has been reported in some of these centres abroad. The follow-up is important as complications may not arise at the same time but further down the road. Health is not just the absence of disease, it involves emotional well-being and if persons are going to be happier because they are comfortable in their bodies then that is enough reason to fix whatever area you have a concern about. If one desires any cosmetic procedure it is fine as long as they manage their expectations. You will not always get the perfect body.